UFC 257: What to expect from Poirier vs. McGregor
Conor McGregor will make his grand return on Saturday, Jan. 23 at UFC 257 against rival Dustin Poirier. There are long-reaching implications for this fight that go beyond the constraints of the UFC.
Let’s take a look at what’s at stake ahead of this blockbuster bout.
Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
Sun, January 24 2021, 4:00 AM
Does time heal all wounds?
There wasn’t much to recap the first time these two swapped fists six years ago.
McGregor’s trash talking and mind games in the buildup softened Poirier up. On fight night, McGregor’s heavy hands did the rest, when he handed Poirier the first stoppage loss of his career. Since then, McGregor has gone 6-2 and Poirier has gone 10-2.
McGregor has competed as high as welterweight during that stretch, and his activity has tapered off. Poirier has fought his way to the top of the division at lightweight and is eager to avenge the most devastating loss of his career. McGregor sees the Poirier fight as a tuneup for another chance to bask in the spotlight.
Who has the edge?
Though it’s been a long time since they last fought, McGregor holds the advantage. He is the bigger puncher, is well rested, and carries a psychological advantage from their first bout.
Poirier has turned into quite the fighter, but it’s hard seeing him last too long against McGregor, when he is still so easy to hit.
Then again, the layoff and McGregor’s mental state may work to Poirier's favor. McGregor had this fight made somewhat at his insistence, because he knows he matches up well against his former victim. McGregor fought Donald Cerrone at welterweight at UFC 246 and might not be at full strength from slimming down a division.
Poirier has to hope he will catch McGregor coming out of vacation mode, lest he gets pieced up again when they come to blows.
McGregor’s future will be unclear in victory
The winner of McGregor-Poirier II should face Justin Gaethje in the future, for the title Khabib Nurmagomedov vacated.
But if McGregor wins, it is uncertain if he’ll go that route. McGregor is mindful of his achievements and adding another title doesn’t do much for his bottom line, though he may try to beat both men to coax Nurmagomedov out of retirement for a rematch.
He is just as likely to move on to the next lucrative bout that presents itself, and that may not be a UFC fight. In just the last few months, McGregor has been linked to a possible boxing match with Manny Pacquiao and has been called out by Jake Paul.
While it would benefit the UFC for McGregor to hang around, the only thing that’s for sure about McGregor is that nothing is for sure.